HC Deb 09 March 2004 vol 418 cc1372-3
11. Mr. Alan Reid (Argyll and Bute) (LD)

If he will make a statement on his Department's policy regarding who pays for the cost of security at small airports. [159440]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Tony McNulty)

Government policy is that the aviation industry should cover all its operating costs, including those incurred in the implementation of security requirements. It is free to choose how to comply with the standards required, and how it wishes to pass the costs on to its customers.

Mr. Reid

May I draw the Minister's attention to the impact of the policy in the highlands and islands? In April, passengers for Tiree will be forced to pay a £20 surcharge, and those for Campbeltown will have to pay £12. Those extra charges will have a devastating effect on the economies of small islands and remote communities on the mainland. Will the Government reconsider the policy, and cover the cost of security at small airports? It could be funded from air passenger duty. The cost of security could be spread across all air passengers, rather than the brunt being borne by those using small, remote airports.

Mr. McNulty

We do not want an aircraft travelling from Barra, Campbeltown or Tiree to a major city airport such as Glasgow to be subject to less security than an aircraft operating from any other UK airport. We propose, however, to introduce a regime tailored for smaller and lighter aircraft and the airports from which they operate, commensurate with the nature of such operations and the risk that they pose. We shall consult the industry shortly. We simply cannot compromise on security, although I take the hon. Gentleman's point, which is a fair one.

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